C1q: A fresh look upon an old molecule
Originally discovered as part of C1, the initiation component of the classical complement pathway, it is now appreciated that C1q regulates a variety of cellular processes independent of complement activation. C1q is a complex glycoprotein assembled from 18 polypeptide chains, with a C-terminal globular head region that mediates recognition of diverse molecular structures, and an N-terminal collagen-like tail that mediates immune effector mechanisms. C1q mediates a variety of immunoregulatory functions considered important in the prevention of autoimmunity such as the enhancement of phagocytosis, regulation of cytokine production by antigen presenting cells, and subsequent alteration in T-lymphocyte maturation. Furthermore, recent advances indicate additional roles for C1q in diverse physiologic and pathologic processes including pregnancy, tissue repair, and cancer. Finally, C1q is emerging as a critical component of neuronal network refinement and homeostatic regulation within the central nervous system. This review summarizes the classical functions of C1q and reviews novel discoveries within the field.